The purpose of this assignment is to articulate an understanding of parallel skills needed to write effective employment-based communications. In this case, our focus is audience analysis.
This assignment has three parts:
Part 1: Audience Analysis. You are a technical writer. You have been assigned to write a user guide/manual for a high-end digital camera capable of recording still images and video. (“High-end” brands include Fujifilm, Canon, Nikon, and Sony.) Relying on the principles you learned in Lessons 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4, analyze the audience for this user guide/manual. In particular, answer these questions:
What is the primary purpose of the document? Are there other, secondary purposes? If so, what are they? Explain and justify your answer.
Which types of readers constitute your primary audience? Experts, technicians, executives, or non-specialists? Is there a secondary audience type that merits consideration? If so, which one? Explain and justify your choice(s).
What are the audience’s potential needs, attitudes, and preferences? What is the basis for your conclusions?
Based on your answers to the previous two questions, refer to Lesson 1.3 and describe the characteristics of the intended audience. In particular, what can you tell me about the background and demographics of the audience?
Based on the various formats mentioned in Lesson 1.1, which format is likely to be most effective for this document and this audience? Why?
Part 2: Compare and Contrast. Download two PDF documents: the Canon PowerShot G11 User Guide and the Nikon D5100 User’s Manual. Assuming the role of a non-specialist reader, compare and contrast these two documents based on the principles taught in Lesson 1.5. In particular, address these issues:
Do these documents provide the right information?
Do both documents contain all the information the reader needs? If not, what is missing?
Does either document contain information the reader does not need? If so, which one and what can be omitted?
Do these documents communicate technical information at a level that is appropriate for the reader?
To what extent do the documents take appropriate steps to guide the reader?
Are the documents organized in a manner appropriate for the content? Do they provide an appropriate level of background the audience needs? Does that background come at appropriate intervals in the document?
Do the documents make appropriate use of transition to help the audience see connections between primary sections, paragraphs, or sentences?
Do the document contain appropriately strong introductions as they are needed?
To what extent do the documents reflect effective writing?
Are the voice and tone of the writing in each document appropriate for the audience? If not, what adjustments would you recommend?
Does either document fall into the passive voice?
Have the documents been properly edited for clarity and economy? If not, point out sentences, paragraphs, or sections that are unclear or excessively wordy.
Are the sentences in the document of varying and appropriate length?
Are the documents visually appealing?
Do the documents include audience-appropriate graphics? Are the graphics better in one document than the other?
Is the text easy to read in both documents? If not, which one is easier to read?
Do the documents make appropriate use of headings and lists?
Do the documents employ design techniques that enhance their appearances?
Do the documents include references to important information?
Part 3: Choose a Camera. Set aside any previous experience you may have had with Canon or Nikon cameras. Consider only what you have seen in the Canon user guide and the Nikon user’s manual. Based only on your comparison/contrast, which camera would you choose? Why? Justify your answer based on your audience analysis from Part 1 above.
This assignment is due at 7 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 20. Assignments submitted after the deadline are governed by the Deadlines, Late Work, & Makeup Policy in the Syllabus (see Grading Policies).
This assignment is worth 50 points. Your performance will be assessed using the attached grading rubric. If grades are particularly important to you, please look carefully at the rubric before you begin working on the assignment so that you understand the assessment criteria that will be used to render your grade.
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